IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade refuses to ‘fit in’
Richard Ayoade is easily one of my favourite British comic performers. I first became aware of his work in the genius cult favourite, ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’ (which could have a whole blogpost of its own- ‘Cool it Sanchez or you’ll get a knuckle supper!’).
You most probably know him as ‘Moss’ from the brilliant Channel Four sitcom ‘The I.T. Crowd’ which is, rightfully, now approaching ‘classic’ status. But he’s pretty much done a whistle stop tour of all of Britain’s best alternative comedy: ‘The Mighty Boosh’, ‘Nathan Barley, ‘Snuff Box’- the list goes on. Since breaking as ‘Moss’ he has done Hollywood films and directed films and TV shows either side of the Atlantic.
But it is still his ‘alternative’ background that separates him from the crowd. From his comedy, to his voice, to his hair, Ayoade is not someone wishing to ‘fit in’ or worry about causing a ‘splash’. Other black comedians such as Lenny Henry have come under criticism in the past for seeming too palatable or mainstream without a discernible ‘edge’. Although, Ayoade does not really ‘push boundaries’ or is particularly controversial he does seem to revel in his own individuality and is not eager to put his audience at ease.
This behaviour has come to the fore lately as Ayoade has been on a press tour to promote his new book, ‘Ayoade on Ayoade’, and his style seems to be ruffling traditional media’s feathers.
This interview with on Channel Four News with Krishnan Guru-Murthy recently went viral as people were shocked seeing Ayoade deconstruct the traditional ‘plugging’ interview and refuse to play along with a farce that frankly everyone is in on. The fake set up of an interview as a genuine conversation when all the ‘star’ is there for, is to say, ‘BUY MY PRODUCT’, is something with which most audiences are familiar. Guru-Murphy flounders, struggling to improvise as he realises his usual line of questioning would be futile.
He should have seen this coming to be honest as even the book itself is a satire on those that take themselves too seriously, as it is an extended with himself about his own fledgling directing career.
Fiona Sturges in the Independent took against this style of performance, (which, of course, is all it is) calling for a return for more traditional interview subject. The irony of course is that by being ‘meta’ (as she calls it) led to more attention (including her article, and this blog) which will undoubtedly lead to more sales.
For any black british kids growing up interested in acting, Richard Ayoade is a fine role model. Despite coming into a field dominated by white people, he does not seek to fit in but instead embraces his ‘difference’ from the norm to great success.
He is proof that we shouldn’t be afraid of being different.